I admit that at the beginning I was slightly worried and alarmed at the growth and effects of Covid-19, but naturally my skepticism was already at work. Whenever there is a consensus of opinion in the modern world, it is almost instinctive that I should take nothing at face value and first dig a bit deeper. Having done that, I become more convinced every day that the lockdown was wrong and is still wrong. Not just wrong, but a colossal mistake for which its proponents (the nation, certainly not the government) will have to pay the price.
The government began by taking a reasoned approach when the spread of the virus and deaths in Italy and elsewhere seemed to be growing, but almost over a weekend, the exact events of which will be soon pointed out by historian David Starkey in an upcoming article, the government dropped its proto-Swedish response and instead caved to pressure. It seems beyond question to me that the government, as it has done before, simply panicked.
Government is nothing but power, it is an institution to legitimately coerce the population in the areas of life whose subjects have consented. When the government does anything, it is an act of power, so when government panics, it seizes control and exerts its power.
The lockdown has unquestionably been one of the biggest interferences in English liberty. Lord Johnathan Sumption, former judge on the Supreme Court, has felt it necessary to speak out against the government in a way that he probably would not have done if the current political or economic crisis were any other. His thoughts on Brexit itself are hardly known. In an article published by The Spectator a couple of days ago, he concludes,
Personally, I would have preferred the argument against coercion to be advanced by MPs. But they have not dared to speak out, although a fair number have told me privately that they agree with me. Somebody has to speak up for rationality, objectivity, and a sense of proportion, and for the millions whom the lockdown is propelling into utter misery and ruin. It is a sad reflection on the current hysteria that it should have to be me.
Sumption’s first words on the crisis came when Derbyshire Police began to act absurdly in enforcing the guidelines set out by the government, and not only were those actions a disgrace (e.g. temporally poisoning a natural lake so as to put off any visitors), they were unlawful. That is, as Sumption emphasised, the police have no right to enforce the wishes of ministers. The guidelines and advice offered by the government were just that, and the legislation passed by parliament was no were near as extensive as that advice. All this nonsense about having to stay home, exercising only once a day, not gathering in small crowds, going out only for food shopping was nothing but government advice, but such wishes in England were traditionally not enforceable by the police. Obviously in China that is not the case. In such a police state, you are told what to do and that is it. The question remains, who do we want to be? Do we want to continue being England or to be more like China? That is the exact question Sweden asked themselves, and they gave the right answer too.
Even if the above measures and instances could justify the health situation, the fact is that the health situation is not dire at all. Comparing to historical pandemics, Covid-19 poses an extremely low threat, because it is clear enough now that the virus targets those who are already seriously ill or at least have underlying morbidities. And that is leaving aside the absurdity, as Dr. John Lee in The Spectator and Peter Hitchens in The Mail On Sunday have pointed out, that government statistics on the death rate are unreliable since there has been a constant failing to distinguish between those dying with the virus and those dying of it. Dr. John Lee notes,
If someone dies of a respiratory infection in the UK, the specific cause of the infection is not usually recorded, unless the illness is a rare ‘notifiable disease’. So the vast majority of respiratory deaths in the UK are recorded as bronchopneumonia, pneumonia, old age or a similar designation. We don’t really test for flu, or other seasonal infections. If the patient has, say, cancer, motor neurone disease or another serious disease, this will be recorded as the cause of death, even if the final illness was a respiratory infection.
He goes on to say,
Now look at what has happened since the emergence of Covid-19… every positive test for Covid-19 must be notified, in a way that it just would not be for flu or most other infections… if any [Covid-19 patient] dies, staff will have to record the Covid-19 designation on the death certificate — contrary to usual practice for most infections of this kind. There is a big difference between Covid-19 causing death, and Covid-19 being found in someone who died of other causes.
Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of the official death rate, as stated by the governments own recent report, are those over 65 and with serious vulnerabilities.
If you are 65 or over, you are most likely not part of the work force that drives our economy and are more likely still to be retired – or at least nearly so. In that case, how can it possibly be justified to lockdown the majority of the healthy workforce who will not suffer at all from the virus and could prevent the economy from further doom? Never before have we quarantined the healthy because of the already-unhealthy minority. This is why the lockdown is just backwards, literally. But we have gone along with it because the government, the public, and the media have mutually pressured each other into spasm and frenzy instead of calm reasoning. The public wanted the government to ‘do something’ and the government played to those fears by frankly petrifying the nation, and still drones on ritualistically with its Orwellian daily conference.
About now someone will suggest that all things considered, we must protect each life as much as possible, and that any economic price is worth paying. This is a fantasy and is just emotional rhetoric. You cannot have a cost-benefit analysis approach when the thing you are measuring against any financial cost is something you believe to have infinite value – a human life.
The economy is not just money, it is also the life and health of the nation. Severe unemployment has plundered rich nations in the past into poverty and despotism. As Peter Hitchens pointed out, a man who has traveled far and saw for himself what can happen to people in sunken economies,
…it was never a matter of life versus money, it is a matter of life versus life.
The economy is not whether we are all just a little bit poorer than we were last year, or if you are reduced to having avocado just once a week, it is about the success or failure of us as a nation. The NHS that many claim to love performs badly in the world for various reasons, but cannot be sustained at all without the thriving economy to fund it.
And if the absolute purpose of life was to just stay alive, then what is the point of living? Sure, we want to stay alive, but never ‘at all costs’ and certainly not forever. It is much easier to say what makes life not worth living than what does, but we must see that avoiding all risk is a life not worth living. The weekly quiet pint with our mates, frequenting the theatre with our partners, stepping off the stuffy plane to smell that foreign air you saved all year to enjoy, these are all the things that make life worth living, even if that pint might harm us or that plane is faulty. Risk is unavoidably a part of any life worth living. As sensible adults we choose what risks we will or won’t take. Not the government. You are not obliged to drink, go outside, drive, go on holiday, or go to a concert, if you don’t want to take that risk.
Considering that the estimations of the Imperial College modelling and others (on which the government decided to shut down the economy) were grossly inaccurate from the start, that the governments own narrative and aim has changed and their own report admits the virus will be with us long-term, that this is a very mild pandemic by historic levels, that our unique and prized liberty is more at risk than ever before, that those who are vulnerable have the unbending right to take as fewer risks as they want by isolating voluntarily, that lockdown has not proven to perform better in those nations that have it than those who do not, and that the gargantuan economic contraction (crash) will result in more harm than the virus ever would have, it is time to end the lockdown now.